A Beautiful Mess

November 15, 2011
By , Millbrook, AL
I am looking for the beauty in every splendid color.

Red is the color I turned when Mrs. Fountain first read one of my essays to the entire fourth grade class. It was my peers. It was my crush Tyler Lloyd sitting three inches away from me, the way I heard laughter in the back of the classroom, the pausing silence I felt when she stumbled over words that might have appeared illegible, and the eyes I felt linger on me from the Korean girl that was popular because she could make origami paper swans. The heat enveloped my face but that day, I found beauty in writing.

Vanilla envelopes are stringed together with ribbon in an old shoebox beneath my bed. The letters tell me the past time of two of the most impeccable people in my life. My dad told my mom he loved her for the first time while they were watching Pride and Prejudice and drinking Coke with peanuts. My mom, an English major, often corrected his grammar with her pencil as she read through his letters. Yale Law School was monotonous without my mom and my mom had never felt a drearier day in Tennessee but that day, I found beauty in their letters.

Green crab apples are the most delectable treat. I poured salt in the palm of my hand and gobbled eighteen of those things before the tree knew what was shaking its branches. I ran around carefree on the back patio while squirting the water hose and listening for the sound the water made as it hit the tin roof. How did the water make such a thundering noise? When the sun said goodbye, and I had what felt like a thousand splinters from climbing the old hickory tree, I would scramble into my papa’s lap. His knee was the comfiest chair in all of the world with his hand making an agreeable back spot. I would always lean in close enough to smell his smell. I could close my eyes and stay put for the rest of my life with no interruptions. Papa, with his dramatic southern drawl, a missing tooth somewhere in the back, and the way he cleared his throat as if I needed anything more for my blue eyes to focus entirely on him, was my storyteller and I always found beauty in his stories.

Yellow was the color of the birthday party for my best friend Rachel. She was an awful good friend and we used to watch television with subtitles but I never acknowledged why we did. I bought her a doorbell from Limited Too so she could put it outside her bedroom. I pounced off the bed and went outside and mouthed, “Let me in when you hear the ring.” After several seconds, I stuck my head in with my stringy hair falling all out of sorts. Our eyes met, and I remembered. Rachel was deaf. It didn’t matter to me then. She was always just Rachel – never deaf Rachel. After returning the doorbell, she said she’d rather go to Borders Bookstore. So we went and laid down on our bellies for at least an hour, full from that Lemon cake and just read. We both wished we could be as marvelous as Junie B. Jones and as mysterious as Nancy Drew but that day, I settled for the beauty I saw in reading with her.

Beauty encompasses everything in life. It’s in the first essay I remember being critiqued on, the way letters passed between my parents, the stories I remember from my papa, and the books that brought two friends – however different – together.

Big beautiful messes of writing, letters, stories, and reading have molded me to be who I am and will continue to shape who I will become. I found and will continue to find beauty in every splendid color.





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